When Australian farmer John Casey "kicks the bucket" — or dies, rather — he will be leaving a strange and treasured inheritance for his three adult children — his 10-foot crocodile, Charlene.
Casey, a sugar cane grower from Mackay in the tropical northern state of Queensland, has told the Murdoch media that:
"I am 50 and Charlie turns 50 next year so she will outlive me. It got me thinking about what to do with her because she is not just some piece of furniture or antique vase. You can't just pop her on the mantelpiece and give her a good dusting every six months or so."
Charlene — or Charlie as the saltwater croc is known to the family — has been with Casey for the past 48 years, having been brought home by his father, Alf, after "her mother had been shot by a hunter."
The family almost had to give up the animal in 1986 when she "accidentally" bit off Alf's hand after he returned from a fishing trip.
Then in November 2010, according to the Queensland Times, Casey was informed by Queensland's Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) that the conditions for owning a crocodile had changed.
After his father had died, Casey had wanted to have Charlene's permit transferred to his name but it would cost him $10,000 in legal fees.
He would also be required to put up a second fence around the enclosure Charlene lives in on the family's at their O'Connell River property, at a cost of $5,000.
"In the end DERM and I came to an agreement," Casey told the Queensland Times.
"A local crocodile handler [Peter Basso] came forward and said he would also help me out with some more formal training," he added.
Charlie, whom Casey refers to as his "little sister," having grown up with her, has often accompanied the family on holiday.
Casey told the Murdoch press that the ongoing challenges of keeping Charlene and his advancing age had forced him to think about the croc's future, and so write her into his will.
"It was fairly upsetting that I might have had to get rid of her," he said.
"She's a good pet, easier to keep then a dog or cat. She is quiet and doesn't bark at anyone. I try to have as much contact with her as I can... She is a family heirloom."
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